Rediscover the Magic of the Holiday Season

Rediscover the Magic of the Holiday Season

There are so many things that make the holiday season magical, but sometimes the joy gets buried in shopping for the right presents, mile-long to-do lists, and crazy packed schedules. 

How can we find joy during the holidays through all the chaos? How can I be present in the moment and be happy when I am being pulled in so many different directions?

As the holiday season approaches, I am challenging myself to embrace more of the goodness, instead of the chaos. The best way I can think to bring the joy back into the holiday season is to experience it through the eyes of my children. 

I immediately think of that sparkle in my kids’ eyes when they wake up on Christmas morning. I hear their tiny feet barreling down the stairs to see what Santa left them waiting under the tree. I smell cinnamon rolls in the oven and a fresh pot of coffee for us bleary-eyed parents when we wake up before the sun, because no matter how late they go to bed the night before, little ones never sleep in on Christmas morning. I feel my heart swell with the joy of the season. 

The unblemished wonder of seeing the holidays through the eyes of my kids gives me the warmth of nostalgia.

I remember when I was young, spending each Christmas Eve gathering in the kitchen with my family to make every kind of cookie imaginable. We would stay up until 2 in the morning making sure everything was set for our family gathering on Christmas Day. 

Every year, my mother made all of her pie crusts from scratch and memory, but one Christmas she failed four times to have it come out right. It was beyond late and finally we all realized that she had been using powdered sugar instead of flour for the recipe. I distinctly remember us all laughing until we cried and our stomachs hurt in the best way. 

Those moments were filled with joy and while I will always have those memories, I wish so badly that I had some of them documented. To be able to show images of these memories to my kids as we work to create our own.  These little pieces of tradition add up to a whole lifetime of fond memories. It captures the parts that make up who we are as families. So why aren’t these the moments we work to capture in photographs, so they can be preserved permanently and remembered forever?

Often times we aim for the family photos with matching pjs or formal wear and wait in long lines at the local mall to sit on Santa’s lap for less than a few minutes. The magic gets lost in the aim for perfection and we forget the true magic comes from the memories tied to the moments we create. A photo should capture the essence of who we are and our traditions are part of that. 

When we stop and see Christmas through the eyes of our kids, we can be reminded of what really matters and find some magic in that. This year I am offering two photo sessions to help you create and remember the magic of the holidays.

The first session is a Family Holiday Tradition Photo Session that focuses on your family’s holiday traditions, documentary style. The idea is to preserve your cherished traditions and capture your family doing what they do best: being themselves and making memories.

The second session involves a holly jolly guy named Santa. 

My Santa Experience Photo Sessions invites Santa into your home for an hour to enjoy some of your favorite holiday traditions with Old Saint Nick. Your kids will be talking about it forever. I know mine are still over the moon from last Christmas! 

This holiday season I invite us all to find joy in the moments that may seem chaotic. Take the time to recognize how our kids see that something special in all of it. Pause and reflect on the wonderful and valuable time together. Capture the beautiful memories in all of the glitter, joy, and spirit this season and know you’re playing a role in creating magic that will stay with your kids forever.

Motherhood and the Moments that Matter

Motherhood and the Moments that Matter

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, my Facebook feed has been inundated with promotions for mommy-and-me mini portrait sessions. The images are nothing short of stunning, with beautiful made-up moms and children who are seen snuggling, playing, and hugging for the camera. I love how they encourage moms to get in the frame with their children. It is something I believe every mom should make a point to do. We come up with so many reasons not to get into the frame that we forget the reason(s) WHY we should: our child(ren).

Then the question comes to mind: What do they/will they want to remember? Will they want the perfectly-pressed outfits and perfectly made-up mom pictures? Maybe. However, let’s stop to think about the fondest memories we have of our moms—do they look like those pictures? Again, they might, but they might not.

This photo of me and my daughter was taken by Shawna Stanley with Shawna & Co.
My fondest memories were always baking with my mom and it’s something I still love to do to this day. I bake with my daughter a lot now and am so glad to have started this tradition with her. While I don’t have images of me baking with my mom (and really wish I did), I have made it a point to make those images of my daughter’s and my baking tradition, not just for me, but for her. Those memories of me and my mom are still a big part of my adulthood—it created one of my most favorite hobbies (outside of photography) and I now get to share it with my children.

The other day while culling a family storytelling session, the photo below stopped me in my tracks. It seems like such a small moment—mom hugging her baby as tight as she possibly could before placing her in her crib for the night. This is when I had a revelation—it’s little moments like this, moments like my mom and I baking, bedtime lullabies, family game night, making “baby burritos” out of a towel when they get out of the bathtub, or living room dance parties—those are the moments our kids will want to bottle up and remember always.

Motherhood is not easy and like me, I am sure you often feel like you are just treading water some days. We struggle to be perfect, when as people we are anything but. I’m here to tell you that in all its chaos and messiness, there is so much perfect beauty is those small, imperfect moments. We can dress up and have portraits taken with our children and while they will love having a photo of themselves with their mom, it’s far more important we provide them with photos that have meaning.

We celebrate big moments (birthdays, Christmas, the first day of school, etc.) with photos and we take portraits to document the passage of time, but we often take the small, everyday moments for granted. It’s time we start photographing them and documenting our real, authentic relationships with our children because in the end, those are the moments we will miss the most and we often don’t realize it until they are gone.

That moment in the photo above—mom hugging her sweet babe before putting her in the crib—is something that happens every night. It’s such a simple, yet profound act of love and now this sweet girl in the picture will get to see it, even when she is a mom herself. That, my friend, is a mommy-and-me picture worth taking.

Let me help you celebrate the motherhood moments that matter with a storytelling session

 For $200.00, you’ll receive a 2-hour storytelling session to gift to your loved one (Hint, hint dad!) which can be claimed anytime between now and July 2018. In addition, you will also receive 5 digital downloads from our session time (artist’s choice). Afterwards, you’ll get the opportunity to purchase what you love from an a la carte menu of prints, products, and collections—a stunning way to celebrate the precious bond we have with our children.

*Fine Print: This story session voucher can be used to book a family session, an in-home newborn session, or a fresh 48 story. As well, the value can be applied toward a longer 4-hour Day in the Life storytelling session. The session can either be in your home or at a favorite location of your choice (or a combination of both).

All sessions are unposed and documentary in nature—they’re intended to capture real life. Check out my family gallery or blog if you aren’t currently familiar with my work. Sessions are for immediate family only, must be booked by May 1, 2018, and take place by the end of July 2018 to take advantage of this promotion.


Holiday Traditions Mini Sessions

Holiday Traditions Mini Sessions

Growing up, one of my favorite traditions during the holidays was baking with my mom. I remember us staying up late making DOZENS of cookies to the point where we were almost delirious by the end. It was so much fun and I looked forward to it every holiday season. One year, we were up so late (thus ridiculously tired) my mom kept messing up a pie crust she had been making for years. I remember her scratching her head as she made the crust about 4 or 5 times, each time it still wound up wrong. It wasn’t until I tasted the “flour” she was using that we realized she was actually using powdered sugar instead! We laughed so hard about it and we still laugh about it to this day. It’s one of my favorite memories.

Even though this was our yearly tradition until I moved away from home, it’s a memory I don’t have any pictures of and I really wish I did—to see see us gathered around the kitchen laughing, baking, and decorating again would mean so much to me.

The thought of having pictures of these memories gave me an aha moment: with all the talk of mini sessions from portrait photographers, maybe I could offer some with a documentary spin? So I started brainstorming and I am so excited to announce that I will be offering Family Holiday Tradition Minis this year! These sessions will focus on your family’s holiday traditions—no dressing up required! They are documentary in style and are focused on preserving cherished traditions and capturing your family doing what they do best, being themselves and making memories.


What kinds of activities would work well for these mini sessions? Any holiday tradition your family wants to document would work great! Want to enjoy making cookies with your kids and be in the photos this year?  How nice would it be to enjoy decorating your tree with your kids without having to stop every few minutes to pick up your camera? Do you cut down a Christmas Tree together every year? Wouldn’t it be great to have some photographs to look back on? Pick a holiday tradition or activity your family loves and be present in the moment by letting me document the memories for you!

How much does it cost? The cost for one of these mini sessions is $225. The full mini session fee must be paid up front to secure your date and time and is non-refundable. The cost includes the following:

  • Brief phone pre-consultation prior to your mini session
  • Approximately 45-minute documentary mini photo session
  • An online slideshow* to music of 12 images to share with family and friends.
  • 6 digital images delivered via download


  • Sunday, November 12th
  • Saturday, November 18th
  • Sunday, December 3rd
  • Saturday, December 9th

Times: Since these sessions take place either in your home or on location, please contact me for availability. Please keep in mind that I will have extremely limited openings for these mini sessions. I can’t wait to document one of your family’s holiday traditions this season <3

*Slideshow file is available for purchase at an additional cost.